11

Current scenario (A):

  1. Submit a paper for free. No matter the quality of the paper, submit anyway. What have you to lose?
  2. If your work is accepted, pay to actually confirm the acceptance of your work, and present it to the world.

Proposed scenario (B):

  1. Submission fees: Anyone who wants to submit to a conference pays a certain amount. $200, say. Hefty enough to discourage 'spam' submissions.
  2. If your work is accepted, you present without having to pay any extra registration fees.

I don't understand why (B) isn't obvious, from a quality control point of view, as well as a more obvious way of funding conferences. Only work that an author knows (thinks, really) is worthy of acceptance need submit, please.

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    The fact that conferences are using scenario A is a sign that they aren't flooded with spam submissions. What I see is a lot of academics getting spam mail asking to submit to conferences. – Pere Dec 1 '16 at 10:45
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    This would be heavily discriminating for people/groups that do good work but would not have the additional funding to actually even try and submit. Some PhD students have to ask for travel grants to be able to present, how would they be able to present anything if they had to pay additional fees? – skymningen Dec 1 '16 at 12:58
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    @skymningen: As the OP describes, there would not be any conference participation fees, so there are no real "additional" fees - that is, as long as you assume that any worthwhile submission will get accepted on its first try. It is true, though, that funding for a possible publication may be harder to obtain than funding for a definitive, accepted publication. – O. R. Mapper Dec 1 '16 at 12:59
  • @O.R.Mapper Travel grants are not to cover conference fees, they are to cover travel and accommodation. I still hope for everyone that they have some funding for the conference fees.But often you only get that if you actually prove you went there. So unaccepted submission fees would be a big, big problem and risk for young people trying to get into the big picture. If you are not accepted, you still want to be there to listen and then would have to pay a normal fee. Or the submission fee itself has to be much much higher to actually cover all participants costs. – skymningen Dec 1 '16 at 13:04
  • @skymningen: Evidently, travel grants would only be asked for once the possibility to travel to the conference is confirmed (i.e. once the submission has been accepted). As such, travel grants seem unrelated to submission fees (?) – O. R. Mapper Dec 1 '16 at 13:07
46

There is already a strong incentive not to submit a paper that you know has very little chance of acceptance. While a paper is under review for one conference, it may not be submitted to another (according to the standard policies in fields where conference papers are "real" publications). If you submit a paper that is nowhere near ready, you hurt yourself: you block yourself from submitting a more complete version of it, that has a good chance of getting accepted somewhere else, for the entire review period.

Furthermore, many conferences end up rejecting lots of very good papers, due to limited space. What is the rationale for collecting fees from those authors? Authors would absolutely take their papers elsewhere, rather than risk paying hundreds of dollars to get a reasonably good paper rejected.

Finally: authors from less wealthy countries are already "priced out" of conferences to some degree (and have to publish mainly in journals), because of the cost of conference attendance (travel, registration fees). This would certainly make the disparity worse.

20

One reason is fairness. Some papers are rejected because they just aren't good enough, but others could plausibly have been accepted if the deliberations had by chance gone a little differently. When a reasonable submission is rejected due to bad luck, it feels like adding insult to injury if the author then has the subsidize the registration fees for the accepted papers. (It might be reasonable to expect authors to cover the cost of reviewing the submissions, but that's far less than typical registration fees.)

Another reason is to minimize bureaucratic overhead. Whenever you collect fees, you have to negotiate with authors over who deserves a fee waiver, and you have to deal with unusual situations (authors who can't or won't pay online, chargebacks from disputed transactions, etc.). The pain scales with the number of people involved, and it tends to be extra high if you try anything nonstandard, so there's an incentive not to experiment, especially in ways that increase the number of transactions.

Another consideration is keeping authors happy. In any review process, some authors are going to end up disgruntled. Maybe they actually received low-quality reviews, or maybe it just feels that way to them, but either way they may complain. I'd bet that complaints would increase tenfold if the disgruntled authors had been charged $200 and felt entitled to a corresponding level of service. I certainly wouldn't want to be in charge of dealing with the complaints.

7

You seem to be under the misapprehension that being willing to "put one's money where one's mouth is" is a measure of the quality of somebody's work. It isn't. There are plenty of rich mediocre people in the world, and plenty of poor smart people.

Also, conferences charging submission fees is an unstable equilibrium. Every conference could attract good papers away from its rivals by charging a lower fee than them, initiating a race back to free submission. This doesn't work for attendance fees, because those pay for actual costs incurred by the organizers, so can't be reduced arbitrarily. Also, one is more committed to attending by the time that attendance fees have to be paid.

1

The premise of he question is wrong. There are submission fees for conferences.

Abstracts are only processed and available for the session organization by conveners after the payment is completed. Please note that this is a processing charge and not a publishing fee. APCs are not refundable in case of an abstract withdrawal, rejection or double submission. The charges collected cover the cost to process the abstracts whether or not one attends the meeting.

http://www.egu2016.eu/abstract_management/how_to_submit_an_abstract.html

Not many abstracts are rejected at this (or other Copernicus organized) conference, but it can happen.

If they are not charged at your conference it means that the organizers don't want to discourage people from submitting an abstract, but if they know they will get enough applications anyways they can charge a fee.

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    "if they know they will get enough applications anyways they can charge a fee" - there are plenty of conferences that know for sure they will get enough applications. Note that in some CS subfields, "good" conferences have acceptance rates of some 30% - in other words, they do not only get "enough" applications, but actually a sufficient number to fill three equally-sized conferences. (And if they charged a submission fee, that would mean submitters would be more likely to get no publication in return for their fee than to get one.) – O. R. Mapper Dec 1 '16 at 12:49
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    With such a small acceptance rate people would hesitate to pay upfront. It wouldn't work well. The conference I linked will have more than 95% acceptance, there is no real publication from it. – Vladimir F Dec 1 '16 at 12:51

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